Pregnancy Tracker: Week 32

Pregnancy Tracker: Week 32




At 32 weeks pregnant, if your baby was to be born now, it would be termed a ‘moderately preterm’ baby and would have a very good chance of survival with care in NICU, but probably wouldn’t suffer any lasting problems.

Your baby is the size of a pineapple, weighing in at about 1.8kg and measuring 43cm in length, head-to-heel.  This is more or less an average birth length, but baby will still put on about another kilo before birth as the body fat increases.  This store of fat is essential to protect baby and to help regulate the body temperature at birth.

At 32 weeks pregnant your little one has possibly ‘dropped’ by adopting the head-down bum-up position, with chin tucked in and facing mom’s back in readiness for birth. This position is known as cephalic presentation and is the ideal position for labour as the back of the head is ready to enter the pelvis first.

Thanks to an amazing quirk of nature your baby's head is perfectly designed to guide the way through the birth canal for delivery. Until after birth, the skull remains soft and separated, allowing it to move and slide while still protecting the brain. The skull bones will only fuse long after birth.

Each pregnancy is unique and some mums-to-be drop earlier than others; in fact a small percentage of babies only adopt the cephalic position as labour begins.  So if your little one is still sitting right side up, there is no need to worry as there is still plenty of time for baby to turn.

Baby’s development at 32 weeks pregnant

At 32 weeks pregnant development is almost complete and all that’s left now is for baby to fatten up and for systems to mature.

Most of the organs are fully developed, except for the lungs which still need to mature further. Baby is giving the lungs good exercise by practicing inhaling and exhaling the amniotic fluid. The nervous system, which has seen a lot of growth recently, is now complete.

Expect to see a growth spurt as baby enters the last few weeks of gestation and final touches are made. Hair on the scalp, as well as eyelashes and eyebrows, are evident; fingernails and toenails are growing; teeth are appearing in gums; breathing and swallowing are being practiced; the skin loses its translucent look as pigment starts to form, and baby continues to make his presence known by his strong movements. Remember to keep track of ‘baby kicks’ so you can let your healthcare provider know if anything changes too drastically.

You, your body, and your symptoms at 32 weeks pregnant

You will be having frequent prenatal visits from now until you go into labour. Your healthcare provider probably won’t call for an ultrasound scan at 32 weeks unless you are having twins or there is something specific he wants to check.

Lightning crotch

Yes, this really is a symptom! It may not be a medical term, but it certainly describes the sharp pains in the pelvic region that you may be feeling in the last trimester. Some mums-to-be report the sensation of pins-and-needles and some feel shooting pains in the groin and thighs.

This is not a sign of labour or contractions starting but is caused by pressure from the baby dropping down into the pelvic area and pressing on nerves.

Itchy skin

Hormonal changes, sensitivity to heat in summer or dry air in winter, and your skin stretching in response to your growing body, are all factors that cause the skin on your tummy, buttocks and breasts to feel itchy. If you are normally prone to dry skin or suffer from eczema, this could make the itchiness far worse. These symptoms are quite normal during pregnancy, but occasionally they can be a sign of cholestasis, which is a liver condition and would need urgent medical attention.

Let your healthcare provider know if you notice the following:

  • Itchy hands and feet
  • A new rash on your body
  • Condition getting worse

Stretch marks

Some people call these marks a ‘badge of motherhood.’  Not all mums-to-be will experience them, as it would appear that they are genetically linked. So if your mum got them, chances are you will too. Other factors include rapid weight gain, multiple pregnancy, having a lot of amniotic fluid or carrying a large baby. The marks are formed when the soft tissue under the skin stretches and tears, and there is unfortunately not much you can do to prevent or minimise them. Although there are creams and lotions on the market, they do not do what they promise! After labour and childbirth the stretch marks will slowly fade or disappear, perhaps leaving small silvery lines as a reminder of your pregnancy.

Swollen hands and face

By now we know that oedema during pregnancy causes swollen feet and ankles, and that a certain amount of swelling is normal and to be expected. You can try to adopt certain strategies that could help to relieve swelling, like getting a little gentle exercise daily, drinking plenty of water to flush your system and wearing suitable footwear as well as compression stockings.

Occasionally swelling can be a sign of something more serious. If you notice your hands, fingers and face swelling up, and the skin around your eyes becoming puffy, you should let your healthcare provider know as it could be a sign of something more serious like pre-eclampsia.

A word on pre-eclampsia

This is a serious condition relating to blood pressure and can occur any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy and right up to and during labour. Studies show that 1 in 10 pregnant women are affected by pre-eclampsia.

At each prenatal visit, your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure and if he is concerned, will also check for protein in the urine.

Most mums-to-be who develop pre-eclampsia do so towards the end of their pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia causes abnormal blood flow to the uterus but can usually be managed medically without any serious or lasting consequences 

If, however, your symptoms are severe and your baby is in distress, you will be admitted to hospital for immediate delivery and closely monitored to determine whether a c-section is necessary.

A few women may develop pre-eclampsia long before due date, and this can be problematic as it may:

  • Affect liver, kidneys, eyes
  • Cause a stroke
  • Cause abnormal blood flow to the uterus, resulting in complications for your baby
  • Cause placental abruption
  • Cause future heart and cardiovascular disease

Do not delay but contact your healthcare provider immediately if the following symptoms are experienced:

  • Rapid weight gain due to water retention
  • Excessive swelling of feet or ankles
  • Swelling of the face
  • Puffiness around the eyes
  • Swelling of hands
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Vision changes
  • Persistent headache

Not only does exercise boost mental health, but it also helps mums-to-be prepare for labour, if done correctly. Make sure you remain safe and follow the advice of a professional maternity exercise instructor.

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